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Day of Okinawa Soba; Okinawa Soba-no-Hi

Date Posted: 1999-10-19

Sunday, October 17 has been designated as the Day of Okinawa Soba (Okinawa Soba-no-Hi). Okinawa Soba is probably the best known of local specialty foods, and the most familiar in Okinawa. The main reason for selecting October 17 as the Day of Okinawa Soba is because it is the date on which Okinawa Soba was officially recognized as soba by the Japanese Government. It is also the date Okinawa Soba was acknowledged as a special local product.

About 400 to 500 years ago, noodles were imported from China and spread out throughout the island. During the era of the Ryukyu Kingdom, local people developed their own style of making noodles, mainly as a court dish, and eventually developed into Okinawa Soba. At that time the dish was served only for the upper classes. It was only after WWII that ordinary people in Okinawa got a taste of Okinawa Soba. Now, of course Okinawa Soba is very familiar to the local residents who called it ‘suba’ in their dialect until after reversion in 1972, after which it changed to ‘soba.’

The Japanese authorities did not recognize Okinawa Soba as a soba, and prohibited calling it soba because it is not made of Soba-ko (buckwheat flour), which is usually used for making soba noodles on the mainland. After Okinawa was brought under the control of Japanese Government at the reversion of 1972, the Okinawa Noodle Maker’s Union kept struggling hard to obtain its recognition as soba. Finally they managed to secure an official admission from the Fair Trade Commission on Oct 17, 1978. To commemorate the history of Okinawa Soba and to promote Okinawa Soba, the Day of Okinawa Soba was designated.

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